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Compare the best garment steamers

Gently remove wrinkles from clothes and delicates.

Updated

Fact checked

If you think ironing is time-consuming, consider buying a garment steamer to do the work. These handy devices are designed to smooth away wrinkles with ease.

Compare top garment steamers

NameAvg. price
(USD)
WattageHeat-up timeSteam output (g/min)Water tank capacity (lt)WheelsPurchase
Philips GC320
Philips GC320
$751000/td>60 seconds200.06NoShop now
T-fal Access Steamer
Tefal Access Steam
$120150045 seconds220.2NoShop now
Philips Steam&Go GC362/80
Philips Steam&Go GC362/80
$129.00130060 seconds240.07NoShop now
Tefal Master Precision IT6540
Tefal Master Precision IT6540
$149.00150045 seconds302.5YesShop now
Rowenta Master Valet Garment Steamer
Tefal Expert Precision IT9500
$179.00180045 seconds353.2YesShop now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What is a garment steamer?

A garment steamer is an appliance designed to remove wrinkles from clothes, linens, upholstery and curtains. They heat water from a tank to make steam, then releases that steam through a nozzle. You use that nozzle on your clothing, and in minutes the wrinkles are gone.

You don’t need to apply any pressure — just hang up your garment and start steaming.

Why should I consider a garment steamer?

There are several key reasons why you might buy a steamer instead of an iron to rid your clothes of wrinkles:

  • Save time. Rather than breaking out the ironing board and waiting for the iron to heat up, garment steamer only take a minute to heat up, and are quick and easy to use — sometime just taking minutes.
  • Save space. Ironing boards can take up a lot of room, particularly if you live in a small apartment. Some garment steamers are more compact and can easily fit in a closet or drawer.
  • For traveling. If you’re on the go a lot for work and always need to look your best, a portable garment steamer could be a game-changer.
  • For delicate fabrics. If you have a wardrobe full of expensive items or you just want to take special care of your delicate fabrics, the garment steamers don’t actually touch your garment. This makes them better than a hot iron for silk and other delicate fabrics.

Why shouldn’t I consider a garment steamer?

If you’re looking for an appliance that can completely replace your iron, a garment steamer probably won’t fit the bill. While they can be quite effective on dresses and suits, they often don’t perform as well on fabrics like cotton, wool and denim. They also can’t provide that crisp, pressed look that a thorough ironing can.

Additionally, handheld steamers usually max out at around 17 minutes of steam time. That means you may need to keep up on your steaming. Ones that last longer will cost more. Also, some steamers can leave material damp, so you can’t always steam-and-wear your outfits.

What types are available?

You have three main options available when buying a clothes steamer:

  • Standing (floor) steamers. Designed for homes, these are capable of taking on heavy-duty jobs. They’re about the size of a vacuum cleaner in size and take up the most space. They have larger water tanks and offer longer steaming time — up to 90 minutes in some cases. Many models also have wheels, a built-in hanger and a number of other attachments. These are more expensive models
  • Mid-size handheld steamers. More compact than standing steamers, these handheld devices are around the same size as a kettle or large hair dryer and are designed to be easy to use and maneuver. They still offer decent power, but a smaller water tanks mean steam time is limited to a maximum of 17 minutes. You can travel with a mid-size steamer in a pinch, but they’re not as portable as a dedicated travel steamer.
  • Travel steamers. Designed to be as compact and portable as possible, travel steamers can fit into your luggage when you’re traveling. While convenient, they don’t have the power as larger models and are typically limited to 12 minutes of steam time.

How to compare garment steamers

Before buying a steamer, think about how you plan to use your new appliance. What clothes and other items will you be steaming? Will you only be using it occasionally or every day? Do you want a steamer portable enough to take with you when you travel?

You’ll get a better idea of the features you need when you compare the garment steamers out there.

  • Size. Check the specifications to find out how much space it’s going to take up. Many home-use steamers include a telescopic pole to take up less storage space.
  • Heat-up time. How long does it take for the steamer to heat up and be ready to use? Many models take anywhere between 60 and 120 seconds, but some large floor units take longer.
  • Steam time. The size of the water tank on a steamer is key to determining how much steam time it offers. For example, a handheld unit might only hold one cup of water and offer 10 to 15 minutes of use per tank.
  • Power. The wattage of a garment steamer has a direct effect on the speed at which a steamer heats up and the amount of steam it produces, so check each model’s power figures to see how they compare.
  • Water tank. Consider the capacity of the water tank and how easy it will be to fill. A removable tank is easier to clean.
  • Heat settings. Are there multiple heat settings so you can adjust the device’s steam output to suit different items of clothing?
  • Price. Prices for small, portable steamers start at around $30, while larger standing models usually range from $100 to $400.

Which garment steamer is best for me?

The best garment steamer for you depends on your budget and how you plan on using it. To help make the decision easier, we’ve compared the pros and cons of five popular steamers:

The goodThe bad
PurSteam Elite
  • Heats up quickly
  • Powerful
  • Hose can be awkward to maneuver
  • Not portable
Jiffy J-2000
  • 90 minutes of steam time
  • Large tank
  • Expensive
  • Not portable
Rowenta DR8080
  • Compact
  • Easy to use
  • 10 minutes of steam time
  • Some reports of water leaks or dripping
Epica 800 Watt
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Some problems with spillage
  • Not as powerful as some other models
Conair GS23 ExtremeSteam
  • Reasonably powerful
  • Dual heat settings
  • Not as portable as some other options
  • Some reliability issues

Bottom line

Garment steamers can be a very handy tool to have in your wardrobe or pack in your suitcase. Compare a few models within your budget to get the best value.

How did we choose these products?

To select the best garment steamers, we conducted online research to find some of the most popular models currently on the market. We also factored in overall features, size, price and type.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a garment steamer and a steam station iron?

Steam stations consist of a water tank and an iron that sits on top, making them closer to a regular iron than a steamer. Steam station irons are bigger, bulkier and more effective than traditional steam irons, but they can cost anywhere from $250 to more than $1,000.

Do garment steamers clean your clothes?

Steamers can help to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and allergens, making them especially helpful for cleaning drapes and upholstery. Steaming your clothes can help to freshen them up in between washes, but it shouldn’t be used as an alternative to laundering your clothing.

Which fabrics can be steamed?

Many common fabrics can be steamed, including cotton, silk, wool and polyester. Materials like suede and waxed jackets should not be steamed.

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